Travel Sketch, Just Another Hobby

Submitted by viravira on 28 March 2014   •  Opinion



I’ve probably stated a few times that I’m not a fan of traveling solo. I like sharing the moment with someone familiar who preferably gets my jokes. But once a while I enjoy a little time for myself in my travels, to just stare out of the train’s window and daydream, or capture the moment or object with my drawing utensils.

Drawing is probably an outdated way of capturing moments and objects since camera becomes a ‘must-have’ item among travelers. I, too, like clicking and clacking my camera. But to me, there is something about drawings that photos can’t replace. There is more subjectivity in my drawings than in pictures I take. And I finish up the objects anyway I want, with any color I think fits best. A kid wearing a green longyi may change to purple stripes longyi if I wanted it. A cat could suddenly pop up in a restaurant if I thought it would be cute. Or, I could also draw everything I see right in front of me.


Top: my bags for Burma trip; a Burmese girl in longyi.
Middle: a curry feast in North Jakarta. Bottom: underwater at Gili Gede, Lombok.

This last decade I’ve been doing more writing than drawing, for work and hobby. Missing the joy of drawing, I’ve been practicing to loosen up my fingers again and combine it with my other hobby, traveling. I don’t mind that it sometimes takes my time away from exploring more things in the destination.


Waking up early gave me time to draw on the deck of our junk in Halong Bay.


I’m not alone in this hobby. There are others who like to draw when traveling, too. I gathered a few from many whose works I admire and interviewed them via e-mails to share their travel and sketch stories with you guys.

Anto (Motul)

“Sketching is a meditative activity, so I do it when I’m not in a hurry,” says Motul, the name he goes by more often. He often touches the objects before or while he’s sketching them. “Because sketching is a method to record the situation in to our memory,” added the man who’s involved in various creative projects, from documentary videos to Indonesian version of Sesame Street.


Kamandalu Resort & Spa in Ubud. Travel sketch by Motul.


Motul sometimes finishes the sketch on location, sometimes he adds colors and details back in the hotel room or even at home in Jakarta after the travels. It’s a more effective way rather than him having to bring along all his coloring utensils everywhere. “I usually just bring my A5 sketch book and pens. Sometimes I bring my watercolor. Anything that doesn’t trouble me much.”

According to Motul, sketching on location is more challenging when done in Indonesia than in countries like Singapore or in Europe. In Indonesia, he gets more attention and people would gather around looking at him sketching, which is often followed by the question, “Are you an artist?” LOL. “I once even got rejected by the security guard of a junkyard in Jakarta, and was told to come back when his boss comes, which even he couldn’t predict when!”


Top: inspired by Balinese man; Motul’s idea of a traveler.
Bottom: the roof of Lombok’s traditional huts.


As for the objects, Motul is more into buildings and still life rather than human activities. “It’s just easier to draw something geometric.” Here are a few more of his drawings, but as you can see, he does well on natural scenery, too! And click here for more of his drawings.


Top: a scenery in Raja Ampat. Bottom: Kuta beach, Lombok.


Yandi Prayudhi

Waiting is never a fun thing to do but sketching has made it an activity worth Yandi’s time. He started sketching while traveling when he had to wait to board the plane and check in at hotels. As an interior designer, it’s only natural that his favorite objects are buildings, interior designs and landscapes. However, he sees sketching as one of the ways he can connect with local people. “I accidentally ran into a group of sketchers when I was traveling in Turkey. And we ended up sketching together, it was so much fun!”


Clockwise: Turkey, Bandung, Singapore. Travel sketch by Yandi.

Yandi is an active member of Indonesian Urban Sketchers, a “branch” of a worldwide community Urban Sketchers, which existence I found out only about, embarrassingly, a few months ago. “I like to share my drawings and interact with other sketchers from around the world. I hope I can join an international Urban Sketchers event someday, meet the sketch maestros and dig up some of their knowledge. But meanwhile, I’m happy to just share and interact with them via Facebook,” says Yandi.

As much as he loves sketching, he limits his time to sketch when traveling. “When I draw in my travels, I usually allow myself only an hour long maximum to do a sketch, because I like to explore the destination, too!”


Yandi’s drawing utensils for traveling.


Do you like to travel and sketch? Or do you have other hobbies that you like to do when traveling? Tell us about it 😀

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6 years ago

Interesting…. which make me think to rekindle my pastime hobby, which I haven’t done that for almost 30 years now….

6 years ago

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